1963: The audio casette and the first appearance of Spider-Man
In 1963, Amazing Spider-Man #1 hit shelves on March 10, 1963 at a cover price of 12 cents. Spider-Man saves the crew of a malfunctioning space ship. In the real world, meanwhile, the first moon landing was still 6 years away, but technology had introduced a new way to record and listen to music —the cassette tape. The cassette made its debut at the 1963 Berlin Radio show, ushering in decades of of kids taping music off the radio (the old-school version of Napster), the era of the boom box and launching the art of the mixed tape.
1972: Pong and Hammerhead
Spider-Man had his hands full when Hammerhead —a villain styled after a 1920s mob gangster with a flattened steel alloy head— was introduced. In the meantime, teenagers everywhere had their hands full of quarters, and were pumping them into Atari's Pong, the first commercially successful arcade video game.
1977: Apple II and the Amazing Spiderman TV series
Spidey made his first leap from paper to live action in 1977, with The Amazing Spider-Man, a prime time TV series that lasted for two years on CBS. Apple was also making its move into prime time in 1977. After becoming the personal computer of choice for hobbyists, the fledgling company released the 8-bit Apple II, its first mass-produced computer and a machine credited with helping kickstart the PC revolution.
1979: First mobile phone network, and Spider-Man falls in love
In Japan, telecom company NTT launched the world's first public mobile phone network in 1979, with coverage limited to Tokyo. Cell towers soon dotted the urban landscape worldwide, offering swinging superheroes yet another option if skyscrapers were spaced too far apart. The cost was the equivalent of $300 US per month for access, plus a $2,000 initial sign-up fee and voice calls cost $1 per minute. Plus the only mobile phones available were in cars, but it was the start of something big. While Japan was leading the way to the death of the land-line, Spider-Man was falling in love. The Amazing Spider-Man #194 introduced The Black Cat, an expert burglar and martial artist who met Spider-Man while trying to bust her father out of prison.
1982: The first Spidey video game and the first compact disc
The first commercial digital storage for the public —arguably the start of the digital media transition— became available in 1982 with the release of the compact disc. No more warped vinyl records or stretched audio cassettes, CDs meant perfect sound reproduction that lasted pretty much forever. 1982 was also a big digital year for Spider-Man, with the release of his first video game, a self-titled cartridge released by Parker Brothers for the Atari 2600 console. In it, the pixelated Spidey battles the Green Goblin while using his web shooters to climb buildings and defuse bombs.
1990: World Wide Web
In 1990, it wasn't just Spider-Man who was focused on webs. The whole world took its first tentative steps toward our hyper-connected today when Tim Berners-Lee began a project to hyperlink web nodes for browsing —the world wide web. It would take a few more years before the first web browser (Mosaic) made its appearance and things really took off, but 1990 was the year it all started. Meanwhile 1990 was also a milestone year for Spider-Man, especially from a collector's point of view. Artist Todd McFarlane's 1990 cover for Amazing Spider-Man #328 —which also featured The Hulk— sold last year for a record $657,250.
1997: The DVD
In 1997, Spider-man celebrated his 35th anniversary. To mark the occasion (which also coincided with the 75th birthday of Spider-Man creator and Marvel movie cameo King Stan Lee), a limited edition collector's box set was released. While Spider-Man was just getting his second wind, 1997 marked the beginning of the end for VHS video cassettes as DVD was introduced and movies became the next medium to go digital.
1998: The First BlackBerry
1998 was an interesting year for our favourite web crawler. Marvel cancelled The Amazing Spider-Man after over 440 issues. Then two months later, the comic book was re-launched, starting again at issue #1, where Spidey took on The Scorpion. Also prominent in 1998 was an insidious little device called the BlackBerry. The RIM 950 was a wireless handheld device featuring a physical keyboard, this was the beginning of the smartphone era.
2007: Spider-Man 3 and the iPhone
Spider-Man made his film debut five years earlier, but did so well the franchise spawned several sequels. 2007's Spider-Man 3 is where the wheels feel off. Maybe it was Toby Maguire's swaggering scenes, or the fact that so many villains —the Sandman, a new Green Goblin and Venom— were all wreaking havoc at the same time, but this marked the end of Maguire's tenure as the big screen web crawler. 2007 also marked the beginning of the end of the BlackBerry's position as leader of the smartphone pack. Apple decided to make the move from computers to mobile phones with 2007's iPhone, the device that turned the smartphone from a business tool to a consumer must-have.
2010: Apple Launches the iPad
Apple had a another big year in 2010, introducing the all-new iPad and launching the next phase of consumer must-have technology: the tablet. Spider-Man also tried to start a new trend in 2012 —superheroes on Broadway. Unfortunately, Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark was a bit of a disaster. The most expensive Broadway production in history, with U2's Bono and The Edge composing the music and featuring elaborate special effects (that took some 182 preview performances and multiple performer injures to perfect), the lesson learned here was that superheroes do better on the big screen than treading the boards.